Q&A with The UPS Store Franchisee Ramzi Tarabichi
Why did you become a franchisee?
As a new immigrant to Canada, I worked hard on my resume and getting my qualifications accredited. After spending 2 years at home sending resumes (over 1,000 sent) I was only able to secure one job interview as a part-time crossing guard in Richmond Hill – quite a distance from my home in North York! I decided to attend The Franchise Show. At the show, I was able to better understand how franchising works and what it involves. After the event, I started communicating with the various franchisors whose concepts I was interested in, which ranged from quick service restaurants to personal services to business services.
How did you choose your franchise?
I was close to concluding a deal with a quick service restaurant but after I spoke to the owner of the location, I recognized that it would take up too much of my time because the hours of operation have them open until 11:00 p.m. She did share with me that her business helped her settle in the country and raise her children and get them to university. While this wasn’t the right opportunity for me, it did help me understand that franchising as a concept was still a good path for me to consider.
It was at that point that I contacted The UPS Store. I liked this operation because, in addition to being a small retail franchise, it offered the most business-like setting. In my former life, I was a Finance and Accounting professional, a Certified Internal Auditor and a Certified Information Systems Auditor, and this concept appealed to my professional background. At The UPS Store, I am able to run the operation as a business, and my customers, for the most part, are small businesses like me. They understand the challenges of small businesses, and vice versa. I was also happy to know that other than UPS shipments, I can price my services and products to suit the market I operate in.
In addition to the above, the The UPS Store brand appealed to me. After researching the brand recognition I was immediately sold. It took me one visit to the area where my store is now to know that it was the right fit for me. I observed the store from the outside for less than 2 minutes before I decided that this is where I belong. The rest is history.
What do you enjoy most about being a franchisee?
I love opening the store in the morning and reciting my little prayer for God to give me a good day! Most of the time, He listens and I close the store in the evening with a smile on my face.
I enjoy it when I close a good sale which I have been pursuing for some time. I enjoy impressing customers with our top of the range service. I make it a point to ask the customer if he or she liked the print job (for example, poster or coloured copies on good quality paper). I enjoy and take pride when we package a very fragile item and it reaches its destination on time and in perfect condition. I take photos of the packaging process and send to the customers and impress them. Every complex transaction brings joy when completed the right way.
When we first started, all our customers were walk-ins. The majority are now House Accounts and rely on us to assist in their business needs. I enjoy these customers now asking for our opinion on printing, design and packaging and shipping. They learned to trust us, and this is very important.
Being a franchisee allows you to make use of the resources the franchisor makes available. The support from corporate office is important and you can always count on your head office to provide guidance and support. It is not for free and should not be, however, had it not been for that support, any operation would fail. What if I had a convenience store and did not know where to source and buy the things I need? This would not happen in a franchise, because they operate as one entity.
In what ways do you support or get involved in your local community? Why is this important to you?
At The UPS Store, we are part of the community. This community extends beyond the boundaries of the store area. My elder son (Karim) suffers from a severe Acquired Brain Injury and attends CHIRS (Community Head Injury Resource Services) and these people have made a significant difference in our lives as a family. I like to give something back, and every year we dedicate one month wherein we give 1% of our sales to CHIRS. This year it is June (Brain Injury Awareness Month). We created small slips to attach to receipts and are happy to tell the customer that they unknowingly donated 1% of that sale to CHIRS. Customers are very happy to hear that.
We are part of the Yorkville community. Everyone around the area knows us now and because it is a walking area, people pass by and say hello. We have customers who pop into the store just to say hello and talk! No purchase necessary. One of my customers told me that he just wanted to come in and talk to us because he enjoys it. He apologized for not buying anything. We told him he is always welcome. After we finished talking and he left, I was gratified. He came back some minutes later with 3 bottles of wine just to say thank you! I have never seen this before (so Canadian of him).